Things to do in Rwanda
Going on a gorilla safari is what Rwanda is most famous for, inspired by the 1970s film Gorillas in the Mist, and its growing population of rare mountain gorillas. Most trips involve a serious trek into the foothills of the Volcanoes National Park, and serious money too with US$1,500 the norm for a single trek. This experience is so extraordinary, however, that you’ll need to book up to 18 months in advance, as permits are like gold dust. You have a better chance of getting a permit in the rainy months of November and March-May.
The minimum age for gorilla permits is 15 and you are advised to always book through a specialist operator. Specialist tours are also available for wheelchair users and people with limited mobility. Volcanoes National Park is located in northwestern Rwanda and covers the Rwandan section of the Virunga Mountains. This massif spreads its magnificence into Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo, and is home to around 400 mountain gorillas. If you get permits for September, try and coincide it with Kwita Izina, the annual gorilla naming ceremony and celebrations of mountain gorilla births in the past year. Their most up to date information is on Twitter.
Rwanda’s three national parks are teeming with wildlife and extraordinary hiking routes. Of course you can go on a hiking trip in Volcanoes National Park without going on a gorilla safari. Or explore the largest tropical rainforest in East Africa, protected by Nyungwe National Park, where you can take on one of Africa’s highest canopy walks and where you will, hopefully, glimpse a colossal collection of chimpanzees and other primates. Keen trekkers will also want to hike the 7km Bigugu Mountain Trail up to the highest peak in Nyungwe National Park at 2,950m. As will botany lovers, with flora including wild giant lobelia and orchids. Akagera National Park, on the border with Tanzania, is all about the wildlife with giraffe, zebra, buffalo, hippo, crocodile and impala, plus a few shy lions and elephants.
The Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre is on most itineraries but two other must visits, under an hour from Kigali, are the Nyamata Genocide Memorial and Ntarama Genocide Memorial. Once churches where mass killings took place, they are now extremely moving, independent museums. Harrowing sites but portraying important stories while remembering tragic loss of life.
Visiting memorial sites around the country is an important reality check for tourists, in a country that has pulled itself out of nationwide grief following the 1994 genocide.
If you'd like to chat about Rwanda or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.
Time on the water
Our night time fishing trip on Lake Kivu was one of the best surprises of our vacation. There were lanterns to guide our way, and an unforgettable peaceful ambience.
Rwanda is an emotional and exquisite country, and there’s no better place to try and process it all than on one of its lakes. Take a day on Lake Kivu with views out to the Virunga Mountains and meet some of the Kivu fishing communities. The Twin Lakes of Burera and Ruhondo on the outskirts of Volcanoes National Park are also very special places. Birdlife is spectacular here.
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The best time to visit Rwanda is generally during the short and longer dry seasons. And, if you want to go gorilla trekking, whenever you can get a permit!
Visiting Rwanda is challenging, exciting, tiring and emotional. It also has three vital aspects: people and culture, national parks and gorillas!
Volcanoes, verdant rainforest, Virunga Mountains and a vast array of wildlife. The most revered being the mountain gorilla.…
Gorilla trekking through Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and Virunga Mountains is one of the world's great wildlife experiences.
Tracking mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park ranks among our most sought-after travel experiences.
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Responsible tourism in Rwanda revolves around peace, respect and understanding. For the people, their lands, and their loss.